BEST PAWS FORWARD: Playwright Dorothy Plummer (left) with Frazzled cast members getting into character.
BEST PAWS FORWARD: Playwright Dorothy Plummer (left) with Frazzled cast members getting into character. Tom Caldwell

Frazzled entertainers go it alone with script

IF YOU can't find a script for the play you want - write your own and make use of your own years of experience.

First cousins and long-time friends Dorothy Plummer and Shirley Barnet have teamed up with veteran actor, writer, musician and friend Phil Zachariah to do just that and the result is Frazzled.

In gestation for 18 months and now in rehearsal, Frazzled will take the stage at the Jetty Memorial Theatre, Coffs Harbour on October 14 and will run until October 22.

Written specially for primary school aged students to perform and enjoy being on stage, the characters include animals like rabbits and kangaroos and the play has roles for children of all abilities, including non-verbal roles.

The simple plot deals with mum's really bad day, family values and the need to work together.

Shirley Barnett is best-known on the Coffs Coast as a talented director, but she can look back on a lifetime of involvement with the stage as professional performer Shirley Broadway.

In retirement Shirley also teaches at the weekly Mix It Up theatre classes for children of all levels of ability, where she has seen non-verbal children learn to speak through singing.

Dorothy Plummer has a background in early childhood education, teacher education and special needs.

She was a consultant to Victorian schools on early literacy and numeracy before retiring and turning her attention to writing.

Phil Zachariah is an actor, writer, composer and musician known for his work in theatre in education, including writing and performing plays and musicals for children with his late brother, opera singer Evan Zachariah.

His one man show, A Christmas Carol, which he wrote himself and in which he plays author Charles Dickens, has travelled the world.

The trio, who met in Melbourne more than half a century ago, have used the ease of instant communication and their mutual interest in young people and theatre to bounce words, ideas and music off each other across the globe.

"At the time we started there was a big shortage of children's plays, Shirley said. "It all came from a family lunch when Dot was up from Melbourne." "There was hardly anything written for primary school children. "Most plays were aimed at secondary level."

The play came together using Shirley's ideas, translated on to the page by Dot and musically elaborated by Phil.

Phil Zachariah has selected 13 songs for the show which Dorothy says are "nice little melodies."

"I enjoy writing fun material for children and using my experiences as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother as a source of inspiration," Dorothy said.

"The aim of Frazzled is to have fun with words, music and stage presentation.

"I feel I've given birth to my baby (now that Frazzled is in production)."

Frazzled, October 14-22 at the Jetty Memorial Theatre, Coffs Harbour.

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